The world is facing a potential mental health crisis in the not so distant future as rising psychiatric problems, brought on by increasing stress levels in our daily lives, begin to overcome our tolerance levels. Psychologists have identified two disturbing behavior patterns that can occur when an individual reacts to negative social pressures.

The first is known as anti-social behavior. This is a behavior pattern or action that doesn’t correspond to our normal and accepted social standards. It can be anything from lashing out verbally or violently at people, to not attending school, to writing graffiti on walls. Though the root causes of antisocial behavior are still yet to be fully understood, repression of strong emotions, negative thoughts, and bad life experiences are all triggers that can lead to anti-social behavior.

Asocial behavior is the deliberate shunning of social interaction by an individual. Linked heavily with introvertism (not wishing to be around others), it can also be a result of other conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.

Antisocial behavior is a particular concern to society as a whole as it not only leads to damage and fear in others, but in severe cases, it can result in physical harm or tragedy. This kind of behavior is attributed to people who steal, hurt animals, rape, exhibit violent behavior, and even commit murder. The deep sense of disillusionment and anger they feel at their own treatment and experiences leads to a lack of guilt and even feelings of joy when harming others. A lack of respect towards the well-being of others makes many antisocial people seem as though they don’t even have a sense of right and wrong. For the most part, their behavior is deliberate and often premeditated, and is the only way they can deal with their inner turmoil. If this antisocial behavior begins in early childhood then the chances of it increasing in magnitude as the child enters their teens and early adult life are enormous. If this happens, it can lead to severe problems when they become adults as the severity of their antisocial behavior increases in magnitude.

Asocial behavior is equally problematic, but is less harmful to society. Individuals suffering from a desire to be asocial generally appear to be lacking in confidence and often anxious about being rejected in some way. As a result, they avoid large social gatherings as not only do they feel uncomfortable, but don’t want to give people the opportunity to reject them or make them feel insignificant. Generally, they will spend most of their time alone or with one or two friends, and won’t make new friendships easily.

Severe asocial individuals will view all friendships as a burden and will find it difficult to maintain any form of a relationship. This will result in them spending all their time alone and having very poor social skills. Because of this, they are marginalized by society and frequently viewed as abnormal individuals. Autistic people are a perfect example of this, where a lack of social skills and a desire to be left alone cause most people to regard them as having a mental illness and therefore to be avoided. Many autistic people won’t even make eye contact or engage in any kind of communication whatsoever.

Schizophrenics frequently suffer from delusionary thought and hallucinations, making social interaction very difficult. Their often irrational behavior and difficulty in being sociable cause most people to avoid severe schizophrenics altogether.

Aside from these three case studies, there are also lots of other reasons a person might be asocial, these include a disinterest in people, depression, chronic fatigue and many more.

TherapistThere are a huge number of potential treatments for antisocial behavior. The key is to establish the cause and to take the appropriate steps to deal with it. Generally, treatments include psychotherapy, counseling, and medication in the severe cases. Counseling is one of the most successful forms of treatment. Addressing the exact causes and getting an individual to talk about their problems rather than taking them out in antisocial ways, has proven very effective. Trying to make them see the consequences of their actions as a way to take more responsibility is also extremely important. Reducing stress, using medication to treat depression, and teaching anger management are all very important in helping to reduce their tendencies to behave antisocially.

Asocial people can be taught better communication skills to improve their social interactions. Activities to boost confidence are also extremely helpful, as are teaching individuals ways to reduce stress and to overcome fear. Addressing the reason for an individual’s asocial behavior is the key to them eventually overcoming it.

Summary

There are lots of causes to both antisocial and asocial behavior. The key is to identify the problem and to give the individual a way to cope with it in the future. Neither condition is permanent, provided the cause is not something like schizophrenia or autism. Antisocial behavior can, in most cases, be dealt with through counseling, while asocial behavior can be overcome by improving communication and confidence levels.